Show Review: Surf Curse

Though it was Friday the 13th, the El Rey’s vibe was anything but spooky. It was a big party for the new album, Nothing Yet, and there was nothing but love among devoted fans.

To begin the night, BOYO played a mixture of songs off album Control, and new EP Machines. Opening their set with the newly released song, “Good As Gone,” the tune was soft and sad, yet also enchanting. Lyrics like “we both look like we’re at a fucking funeral, I miss the usual” portray the grief one goes through in losing love. Flowers at the front of the El Rey stage paralleled that of a mournful graveyard. Through a sense of grief, BOYO transitioned the set into a dreamlike state that featured an ethereal reverb along with a nice touch of synth. From crescendos to diminuendos in instrumentation, Robert Tilden’s voice was gentle and strong. 

Palm Reader joined the Surf Curse’s celebration by coming out with a set of politically and socially fueled songs. The candidness of Palm Reader made a genuine and raw connection to the audience that got everyone dancing and crowd surfing. While grungey and at times cacophonous, the band was successful in keeping things warm and friendly. The sound was as if Kathleen Hanna had three children who all started a band. Their set was wild and relevant, with intermittent yells of phrases like, “Fuck Donald Trump!” and “Respect women!” 

Remember the treasure chest you used to eagerly reach into as a child, unaware of the potential prizes you were about to grab? The Surf Curse Record Release show was something of a similar nature. Once Palm Reader finished, Surf Curse came out with a balloon decorated stage, as if it were a birthday party. I had not known what to expect with Surf Curse, as I didn’t get a chance to listen to their new album, but what I heard and what I saw was something truly special. 

Accompanying Surf Curse’s guitarist, Jacob Rubeck and drummer, Nicholas Rattigan, were BOYO’s Tildan on backup guitar and Danger Collective’s Reed Kanter on keys. Surf Curse began their set with new song “Christine F” off of Nothing Yet. It was in this moment I saw the crowd really moving and dancing. I couldn’t help but think, “this is home.” Listen, I don’t mean to get sentimental, I really don’t, but it was an instant like this where I saw music at its finest and most genuine. This was the moment I saw music in its sincerest form.

During one of my favorite songs, “The Strange And The Kind,” Rattigan played a strong and solid bass drum while simultaneously singing as well (which is amazing coordination...I can’t even walk and eat a bagel at the same time). It was at this point I saw a boy in a black beanie and lipstick let himself freely dance, until he dipped into the trusting crowd that held him. There was no judgment or hostility amongst fans and it made it seem natural for many to dance on stage; these people weren’t just fans but family, all there for the sole purpose of music.

With sweat and passion, Surf Curse played new song favorites “Nostalgia” and “All Is Lost.” Among new tracks were some oldies like “Ponyboy,” and rarely played song, “I’m Not Making Out With You.” The emotionally charged track, “Falling Apart,” concluded the night. Appealing to all our emotions, the lyrics “I’ll never be what people quite expect of me” hit hard as Rattigan’s voice echoed brutal honesty and self-deprecation throughout the room. Although this track is sad in its nature, Rubeck shared a smile with the crowd as audience members began to clap along in the song’s final moments.

Surf Curse gave a performance that demonstrated what music is and should always be about: sincerity. Music isn’t about money, or record deals, or popularity. It’s about the emotion you can give to someone, or the emotion you can feel from playing it. On that night, on Friday the 13th, we were there for the music. Nothing Yet is out now and I highly recommend giving the boys of Surf Curse a listen.


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